Citroen boss Linda Jackson has called on the automotive industry to set an example to other sectors on the need for diversity in the workplace.
Talking at Autocar’s Great British Women in the automotive industry event, Jackson said: “Automotive is one of the most pioneering industries when it comes to future technology, so why can’t we become a leader in equality and diversity and show other sectors how it’s done?”
She said the debate should not be “anchored in pure equality terms [but] be about gender-neutrality. In other words, if you’re marking a difference, standing out, you should progress whatever you gender.”
Acknowledging that the industry remains “massively male-dominated,” Jackson highlighted an Institute of the Motor Industry report which states the automotive staffing mix is a 10 to 2 ratio of men to women. She added: “The age-old stereotypes still exist of men as the car mechanics and car buyers and women as the meek and mild partners who like pink and can’t park.”
She said that part of the imbalance was the need to address the gender pay gap. According to published government figures, no car dealerships pay women the same or more than men and a quarter of car makers pay women less.
“The bottom line is that firms that employ women are more profitable. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact,” she said.
Jackson added that in the future, she hopes that gender, ethnicity, age and nationality all become insignificant in the workplace.
“The fact is, we need diversity at every level, through an organization not just as leaders or senior faces or figures. It’s important to make sure our voices are heard, understood, accepted and not overlooked.”
At PSA Group, Citroen’s parent company, one in five group managers are women. At Citroen headquarters, 38% of employees are women “and rising,” said Jackson.